Liverpool's Internationals Preview and Schedule, 10.11.13

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Qualification may be out of reach for Slovakia, but England and Denmark both face matches they need a result in. Elsewhere, Uruguay look to move up while Kolo Toure and Victor Moses will look to impress in CAF action.

With World Cup qualification nearly over, Daniel Sturridge makes his return to international competition in a match that could hand England a first place finish or throw their qualification hopes into chaos while elsewhere in UEFA action Denmark must get a result against Italy to keep their hopes alive. Meanwhile, Luis Suarez and Uruguay will look to avoid an international playoff against Jordan and in CAF action, Kolo Toure and Victor Moses are both likely to be involved over the weekend.

Croatia v. Belgium
Friday, October 11th
5PM BST/Noon EST


UEFA


Things just about still matter for Belgium in Group A as the leaders kick Friday off with the early start against a Croatia side assured of at least a second place finish in the group. With two games left for both countries, Belgium are five points ahead in first place, meaning even a draw will completely settle the automatic and playoff qualification berths. If the Belgians do wrap up first place, Simon Mignolet—doing his best to fill Pepe Reina's boots at every level—may even get the chance to do more than just watch from the bench against Wales on Tuesday.

Denmark v. Italy
Friday, October 11th
7:15PM BST/2:15 PM EST






Denmark need three points while Italy are assured of finishing first in the group and may take it easy as the Danes fight to get out of Group B with second place and the chance at a qualification playoff. Despite trailing Bulgaria by a point with 12 and well back in goal difference, things couldn't have ended up much better for Denmark heading into the international break given they face Italy and Malta—a side already qualified and a side already out of contention. Bulgaria, meanwhile, face the Czechs and Armenians, both on nine points and holding on to the faintest of qualification hopes if they run the table.

England v. Montenegro
Friday, October 11th
8PM BST/3PM EST






Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge, and England may stand first in Group H, but advancement remains far from certain as they face surprise upstarts Montenegro. On paper at least it doesn't seem as though it should be a difficult match, but with their unlikely Brazil dreams still alive there's always the chance of a shock upset if Roy Hodgson's side takes their opponents lightly. With two matches left, England have 16 points and a helpful +22 goal differential while Ukraine and Montenegro both sit a point back of the leaders and Poland lurk in fourth on 13 points. Victory on Friday would guarantee a top two finish, and if Poland manage a result against Ukraine elsewhere in Group H action it would all but guarantee first.

Ecuador v. Uruguay
Friday, October 11th
10PM BST/5PM EST


CONMEBOL


Entering the final two matches of CONMEBOL qualification, Uruguay's once very real chances of missing out on heading to Brazil next summer look to have been put behind them. The Copa America champions currently have a three point lead, a +6 goal differential advantage, and a game in hand against Venezuela—the only side mathematically capable of catching them. The real question is whether Uruguay can manage a strong finish, move up a place in the standings, and avoid a long trip to face Jordan in the intercontinental playoff. Friday's match against Ecuador will go a long way to deciding if they do, as the two sides are currently level on points but with Ecuador ahead in fourth place on goal differential.

Ivory Coast v. Senegal
Saturday, October 12th
6PM BST/1PM EST


CAF


Kolo Toure, once again playing regular football at the club level, has a good chance of starting for Ivory Coast when they play the first leg of a home-and-home qualification playoff against Senegal with the winner punching their ticket to Brazil. Ivory Coast are currently the top rated side in CAF, 19th in the world and more than 40 places ahead of their opponents on the weekend, but few will expect an easy match. The last time the West African rivals faced saw chaos in Dakar and led to Senegal being banned from hosting international matches—meaning the "return" leg in November will be played at a neutral site—and Saturday's game will have 1700 extra security personnel around the stadium in Abidjan and no matchday ticket sales.

Ethiopia v. Nigeria
Sunday, October 13th
2PM BST/9AM EST






On paper at least, Victor Moses and Nigeria should have little trouble against Ethiopia. A strong Super Eagles side coming off an Africa Cup of Nations triumph in January and that impressed at the last World Cup on one side and, on the other, a country that has never made a World Cup appearance and regularly flirts with a three-figure FIFA ranking, does not suggest a competitive match. However, Nigeria made tougher work of it than they should have in group play, and while most expected them to cruise to the top of their group instead they faced a must-win final day match against Malawi. In the end they won that game fairly handily to advance to the final qualification round, but that they needed that win to advance could give Ethiopia a sliver of hope to pull what would be a historic upset.

Odds & Ends





Elsewhere in the matches that don't matter, Wales takes on Macedonia on Friday at 7:45PM BST in a game that's only interesting for the chance that 16-year-old prospect Harry Wilson might make his international debut before he's made a senior appearance at club level. Slovakia and Martin Skrtel, meanwhile, face Greece at 7:45PM BST on Friday in a match that only matters to Greece's chances of finishing top of the group ahead of current leaders Bosnia and Herzegovinia. Mamadou Sakho and France will have to wait until Tuesday to play their final qualification match.

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